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Spurring Development
The architects hope the new transit center will activate the western end of Downtown San Antonio.
Courtesy Perkins Eastman

In late June, the board of directors of VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio, Texas, approved plans for the Westside Multimodal Transit Center at the corner of Frio and Houston streets. The city hopes that the project, which broke ground on July 14, will spur development in this somewhat sparse and dilapidated area just west of downtown. The neighborhood is currently home to such differing facilities as a University of Texas at San Antonio campus and the Bexar County Jail.

Designed by New York City–headquartered EE&K, a Perkins Eastman company, with local help from architecture firm Ford, Powell & Carson and landscape architecture studio Bender Wells Clark Design, the transit center taps into San Antonio’s rich history of urban squares. It will service the city’s growing network of city bus and VIA PRIMO bus rapid transit service, expand its B-Cycle bike share system, and may accommodate future rail service as well.

 

Perkins Eastman has plenty of experience with this kind of project. The firm previously worked on Houston’s Northern Intermodal Facility and Los Angeles’ Union Station. “We got the job because we knew how to take a transit project and turn it to a civic purpose; use the same dollars to create a plan around the facility that will make it a center piece of future redevelopment,” said Perkins Eastman principal Stan Eckstut. “We started by looking at the streets, instead of looking at bus facilities, and said ‘lets’ purchase a whole block, turn it into a square with busses on the perimeter, and make it a wonderful place to wait for busses or arrive for work, with lots of shade, landscape, art, and cafés.’”

The design of the transit center takes its cues from the adjacent International–Great Northern Depot (1908), a historic train station designed by Harvey L. Page in a fantastical Spanish Mission style, which was converted into a bank in the 1980s. The depot’s circular dome, as well as the turning radii of busses, inspired the circular, 20-foot-high canopy that rings the site.

 
 

While primarily composed of a simple palette of structural elements, the design team added tile mosaics to the column covers, “to add a little more beef, so there’s something to look at,” said Eckstut. The canopy is topped by a photovoltaic array that will generate much of the power needed to light the project. A stand of cedar elm trees fills the expansive interior of the 90,000-general-square-foot plaza. Permeable pavement and an underground retention system control stormwater runoff. A light tower installation by San Antonio artist Bill Fitzgibbons is planned for the plaza entrance to make it easily discernible from long distances.

 

As a security strategy, San Antonio opted to stay away from cameras. Instead, the city and the architects opened up views across the facility, in the hope that once the site is activated there will be enough activity to keep it safe. “They were willing to take a positive views of their riders and people in area,” said Eckstut. “There are at least a dozen development sites nearby that are vacant, or parking lots, or one story buildings. It could be major place for people to live and work near downtown.”

Currently Perkins Eastman is putting together a manual for future transit stations in San Antonio. “It’s full of lessons on how to approach each transit facility,” said Eckstut. “It advises to think beyond stopping and going, to expand the idea of the platform to be a public environment.”

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Land of the Cotton
Courtesy HiWorks / Urbanist Design / Studio Outside

At the end of March, faith-based non-profit Link Ministries and Urban Tech, the downtown studio of the College of Architecture at Texas Tech University, announced plans for High Cotton Genesis, a homeless assistance facility on the 5-acre site of a former cotton gin in Lubbock, Texas. Designed by San Antonio architecture studios HiWorks and Urbanist Design and Dallas landscape architecture practice Studio Outside, the master plan provides a framework for phased development of new service buildings and a chapel, the adaptive reuse of existing agricultural structures, and landscape elements that will soften the harsh West Texas environment.

High Cotton has already been in operation on the site for three years in a military-like array of tents, which has become known as “Tent City.” It was set up after the Lubbock City Council made it illegal for the homeless to occupy the city’s central library as a 90-day assistance program geared toward helping the housing impaired to get back on their feet, find a job, and move into their own residence. “We came at it not trying to be nice to anybody, we were just trying to get them out of downtown,” said Urban Tech director David Driskill.

 

Link Ministries, which owns and operates several community centers in former cotton industry buildings in the area, donated the property. The facility—the first of its kind in Lubbock—turned out to tap quite a need. “Every day I get at least one call from a potential resident that I have to turn down because we’re at capacity and have a waiting list. It’s a good sign that our services are helping people in the community, but it’s also a sign that it’s time to grow,” said Link Ministries director Les Burrus in a statement.

To determine how best to improve the project, Link Ministries and Urban Tech formed an advisory group (the High Cotton Core) and held an information gathering session in January 2012. In the fall of that year, Lake Flato Architects led a design charrette with the High Cotton community to further flesh out a vision for the site. In fall 2013, the stakeholders reached out to the design team, inviting them for a two-day site visit and two more charrettes. In order to get a better idea of the experience of residents, Brantley Hightower, founder and principal of HiWorks, spent a night in Tent City.

 

The master plan builds on the assets that High Cotton has in place, making strategic additions to diversify and improve the level of services offered so that it can help a broader range of the homeless population. One key element that was maintained is Tent City. “The whole idea of using tents started because that was all they had,” said Hightower. “But what they found is that they were nice enough and permanent enough to be an improvement over the street, but you didn’t want to stay there forever.”

“When you start getting into physical architecture for this kind of use it has to be durable and can get dehumanizing pretty quick,” said Jonathan Card of Urbanist Design. “The tents are no substitute to your own house, but they do offer some dignity.”

The most prominent architectural aspect of the project is the chapel, a 45-foot high extension of the existing cotton gin building, which will become a landmark in the flat landscape. The lower-slung service buildings and a perimeter wall, based on a Spanish Mission precedent, are planned to be constructed from rammed earth.

The landscape design mixes various drought-resistant grasses and other arid plants with windbreaks and lusher vegetation to create a soothing retreat from the surrounding windswept plains. “We ended up blending orthogonal lines and letting nature eat its way through the site to give it more interest,” said Tary Arterburn of Studio Outside. “The client said that part of West Texas is like walking into a definition of hell and wanted it to be an oasis for residents.”

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The Architecture of Fracking
The impact of the Eagle Ford Shale Play from space and on the ground.
Courtesy NASA

At the dawn of the twentieth century Texas was a poor and rural state. Over the course of the next 100 years, the discovery of vast petroleum deposits hidden beneath its expansive landscape fueled the growth of the state’s economy and transformed it into the modern home of three of the nation’s ten largest cities. Wealth from the oil industry has bankrolled the skylines, cultural institutions, and politicians that have come to define the state.

Texas has experienced its fair share of oil booms over the past century and it is currently in the midst of what may prove to be one of the largest. Although oil and natural gas have been known to exist in shale formations for some time, until recently these deposits were too difficult to profitably extract.

Induced hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking” as it has come to be called—is the process by which a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals is injected underground at high pressures, creating a network of small fractures that allows the embedded oil or natural gas to be removed. The technique itself is not new but the advent of directional drilling technologies made thin shale strata accessible to a degree never before possible.

 
Brantley Hightower 
 

The infrastructure required for these operations is large, complex, and proprietary. In order to shield the undertaking from prying eyes, many of the early drilling operations that tapped the Barnett Shale deposit in the Dallas–Fort Worth metropolitan area attempted to conceal themselves behind large privacy screens that resembled the abstract land-art of Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

If the Barnett Shale acted as a proving ground for induced hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling, the Eagle Ford Shale demonstrated that the technique could be adapted for the extraction of oil on a vast scale. The formation itself is a 400-mile-long subterranean rock stratum that has proven to be one of the largest plays in recent memory. Although there is no obvious visible surface delineation of this particular underground formation, the activity occurring above it has made the region clearly visible from space. NASA imagery shows the lights and gas flares associated with drilling operations illuminating a wide swath of land between San Antonio and Laredo.

Even if the mobile drilling rigs and pump jacks directly associated with oil extraction are perhaps the most obvious relics of an oil boom, they are not the most significant. The true architecture of fracking is much more banal.

Brantley Hightower
 

In just a few short years, small towns such as Pleasanton, Three Rivers, and Cotulla have seen their populations explode as drilling operations expanded in the region. Undeveloped tracts of land on the once deserted highways leading into these and other towns are now home to a myriad of structures hastily built to support the wells and those drilling them. In addition to vast quantities of water, sand, and chemicals, drilling for oil requires steel pipe as well as welders to connect it and trucks to transport it. Towns that once had a single stoplight now sport multiple hotels and restaurants that constantly operate at capacity. Billboards now display advertisements for trucking services as well as for attorneys representing those injured in trucking accidents. In just a few short years these small towns have developed sprawling edges of suburban development.

Even if most of this pattern of development is familiar, the boom has given rise to at least one new building typology—the man camp. Filling a need for housing in between a hotel and an apartment, these camps exist as arrays of RVs or low-end mobile home trailers and offer minimal accommodations for subcontractors working far from home. These temporary villages sit empty for most of the day until a shift change occurs and the parking lots fill with dusty pickup trucks returning from the oil field. Rents at these Spartan villages might run as high as $1,200 for a 400-square-foot cabin although this can be reduced if a single bed is shared between a day and night shift worker.

Inflated prices burden local residents and transient workers alike. Gasoline, groceries, and rent have become more expensive and traffic has become considerably worse than it ever was before the boom. Some local residents might benefit by selling land, its mineral rights, or by entering the service industry, but those who rent or are on fixed incomes have a much harder time.

 
Brantley Hightower
 

The Institute for Economic Development at the University of Texas at San Antonio has conducted research on the impact of the Eagle Ford Shale. In 2013, it released a study that reported that drilling in the Eagle Ford added more than $61 billion to the economy of a 20-county region in Central and South Texas in the previous year. The study forecasted that drilling operations would directly or indirectly generate 127,000 jobs in the coming years.

Of course, this prediction is predicated on the notion that the demand for oil remains high and the price of oil remains constant. The profitability of a drilling operation in the Eagle Ford play or anywhere else ends as soon as the price of a barrel of oil drops below the cost of its extraction. And when it falls below that level, companies will begin to pull out of the region. It is thus a race against time to extract as much oil or natural gas as possible before the price drops.

Brantley Hightower
 

The challenge for towns such as Pleasanton, Three Rivers, and Cotulla is to ride the wave of the boom while building a sustainable community that will survive after it has subsided. While these communities now have the funds to invest in schools, parks, and other public amenities, they also are facing infrastructure demands unlike anything they have seen before. Managing this sort of rapid growth is difficult, but planning for a post-boom future is harder still. Making matters worse, the kinds of structures currently going up are not easily repurposed. When the boom ends these small towns will have little need for all the hotels, restaurants, and big box retail stores that are now proliferating across the landscape, and the long-term environmental effects of the chemicals associated with induced hydraulic fracturing are as yet unknown.

 
Brantley Hightower
 

Located in the Permian Basin in west Texas, much of Midland’s surprisingly well-developed skyline sat empty through the oil busts of the 1980s. The recent tapping of the shale deposits of the region has reignited its economy and, in what promises to be one of the more obvious symbols of the manic optimism of a boom mentality, developers have proposed building a 58-story mixed-use tower in this city of 111,000 (“Boom Town” ANSW 01_11.26.2013). Designed by Edmonds International and dubbed the “Energy Tower at City Center,” this structure would be more than twice the height of its tallest neighbor, not to mention the sixth-tallest tower in the state.

Needless to say, this monument to the most recent oil boom would radically transform the skyline of a city that is itself a product of an earlier boom. But the real architecture of fracking is much more mundane. It is the Chili’s restaurant built on what a year ago was an open pasture. It is a cheaply built man camp where oil workers spend their evening alone in their rooms. It is the small south Texas town whose population has ballooned with the boom and, in the process, become unrecognizable to the people who once called it home.

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The Need for Speed
Speeding Train (Treno in corsa), 1922, Ivo Pannaggi.
Courtesy Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio della Provincia di Macerata

Italian Futurism 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe
Guggenheim Museum
1071 5th Avenue, New York
Through September 1

There is a playful perversity in celebrating an artistic movement that called for the destruction of “museums, libraries, academies of every sort…” with a monumental exhibition on Fifth Avenue. Italian Futurism 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe, on view through September 1 at the Guggenheim, takes an ungainly collection of painting, prints, sculpture, ceramics, fashion, and writing and tames it into a lively narrative about a curious strain of early 20th century radicalism that aimed to bully its way to utopia.

Later reviled—sometimes unfairly, writes art historian Enrico Crispoliti in a catalogue essay—for its associations with Italian Fascism and a misogynistic point of view, Futurism began as a literary movement spearheaded by the poet and editor F.T. Marinetti. In his original 1909 manifesto published in the French newspaper Le Figaro, Marinetti provocatively paid homage to war and speed, the former as a transformational force in society and the latter as a new aesthetic standard for modernity.

Marinetti’s medium was the written word, but through the years he gathered a motley, multidisciplinary crew under his tent, including poets, musicians, artists, and architects. The Italian movement, which emphasized plastic and dynamic forms, unfolded parallel to Cubism in France and was soon influenced by it. Umberto Boccioni, one of the better known artists from the movement’s so-called “heroic” early period, is well represented in the exhibition, as is the young architect Antonio Sant’Elia. A fascination with the infrastructure of transportation and communication shines through in Sant’Elia’s drawings of sleek, streamlined high-rises in his Città Nuova series, and his drawing Station for Trains and Airplanes looks like it may have come from the pages of a 21st century newspaper.

Exhibition view.
Kris McKay
 

Killed in 1916 in World War I, Sant’Elia’s involvement in the movement was brief and on paper, although his name lived on as the title of a Futurist journal. Work of Sant’Elia’s contemporary Mario Chiattone, who was never formally part of the Futurists, is also included in the show, along with that of architect Virgilio Marchi, whose dramatic sketches for city plans with flyovers and floating walkways for the island of Capri—a Futurist outpost—evoke modern day Hong Kong.

The surprise star of the exhibition is Fortunato Depero, an artist and graphic designer who notably proclaimed in 1931, “The art of the future will be the art of advertising.” Unlike the architects associated with the movement, Depero actually managed to build something, and his 1927 Bestetti Treves Tumminelli Book Pavilion made of giant three-dimensional letters, showcased in a striking 1:3 scale model in the show, seems to foreshadow the contemporary pop-up shop. Depero’s ads for Davide Campari underscore his facility at bringing Futurist aesthetics into the commercial realm, while his designs for toys, textiles, and waistcoats speak to the Futurist ideal of the opera d’arte totale, or “total work of art,” a concept more familiar to architects and designers in its German iteration, the gesamtskunstwerke.

Like Gropius at the Bauhaus, the Futurists wanted to create a holistic environment. But if a movement so aggressively shuns the past, it is a challenge to create a way of living that does not refer to previous conventions. A Futurist tea set? A Futurist dining room suite? Both are represented, and it is at these moments in the show that Futurism almost feels quaint.

At the Guggenheim, visitors may be tempted to zip to the top of the building via elevator then let gravity help pull them through the main exhibition. But those who trickle down through Italian Futurism will miss the full impact of the careful story that curator Vivien Green methodically builds during a forced march up the museum’s ramp. With the mix of media including archival publications of Futurist manifestoes (there were many) as well as videos that deploy sound and photographic stills, content and context become effectively blurred.

The Futurists were a noisy bunch, declaiming their latest writings at serate, evening gatherings that often ended in a scuffle. The exhibition feels intentionally noisy, too, with an atmosphere of cacophony rather than contemplation. The message is that Futurism was meant to be experienced, not just observed. A side gallery dedicated to Futurist theater underscores this with a pulsating installation that evokes Giacomo Balla’s 1916–1917 lighting design for Igor Stravinsky’s orchestral composition Fireworks.

Politics aside, this dedication to the disorienting and disruptive gives the Futurists particular resonance today, when the speed of cultural and technological change is taken for granted. The movement’s love of aerial perspectives generates some of the most electrifying later work, such as Tulio Crali’s 1939 Before the Parachute Opens, which graces the cover of the exhibition catalogue and could be a still from a modern day action movie. Seen from above, a black clad figure is silhouetted against the countryside just as he jumps from a plane.

By comparison, the last gallery, featuring five large-scale painted panels by the artist Benedetta Cappa, one of the prominent female Futurists and later Marinetti’s wife, feels like a quiet coda rather than a conclusion. Based on the theme of communications, the 1933–34 public work was tucked away in a conference room in a post office building in Palermo. It is a reminder that with so few major commissions, the Futurists only come into focus today through massive efforts like Green’s at the Guggenheim.

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San Antonio Mayor Reportedly Tapped To Replace Donovan as HUD Secretary
President Obama will reportedly nominate San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. If confirmed by the senate, Castro will succeed Shaun Donovan, a trained architect, who has been at the agency since 2009. Donovan is expected to head the Office of Management and Budget. Since the news about Castro broke, there has been very little discussion about what this appointment means for the future of HUD. Instead, the Chattering Class has been entirely focused on what it means for national politics. And that is not surprising given that Castro is a “rising star” in Democratic politics. He gave the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, is seen as a possible vice presidential candidate in 2016, and has been referred to as the "next Obama" in countless columns. Many political observers believe this nomination is a way for President Obama to increase diversity in his cabinet, and for Castro to build a national profile. But back to the task at hand: What will Castro mean for the future of HUD? That is a hard question to answer because, again, this appointment is so wrapped up in politics. His background at the helm of a major Southwestern city brings its own distinct qualifications to the job. One possible glimpse into Castro’s legislative priorities is SA 2020, an initiative his administration launched in 2010 as a community-based approach to city planning. According to an SA 2020 progress report, by 2020, the city plans to add 5,000 new apartments downtown, reduce vehicle miles traveled per individual by 10 percent, and double attendance at cultural programs. As HUD Secretary, Castro will be tasked with setting somewhat similar goals, but on a much larger scale. Implementing any big plans, though, will be difficult considering the president has less than three years left in his term. One immediately pressing topic on his agenda will be Rebuild By Design, a design challenge led by the agency to create a more resilient Eastern seaboard. AN recently reported that the competition's winner would be announced in the coming weeks. A possible change of leadership at HUD is not expected to change that. An official involved with Rebuild, who is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, told AN "everything is moving as planned with full dedication and speed."
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New Practices New York
NAMELESS Architecture's Byeollae Church in South Korea.
Courtesy Nameless Architecture

The American Institute of Architects New York Chapter honors six new firms for innovation with its New Practices New York exhibition at the Center for Architecture, opening October 1, 2014.

NAMELESS Architecture
[ Firm Website ]

With offices in New York City and Seoul, Korea, NAMELESS is a concept-based architectural practice committed to “the simplicity on the unpredictable world.” The firm has completed art pavilions and worked on the cultural infrastructure of New York.


Bittertang's Ice Palace in Winnipeg.
Bittertang
 

Bittertang
[ Firm Website ]

This small “design farm” is run by Antonio Torres and Michael Loverich. With offices in New York City and Guadalajara, Mexico, Bittertang makes it its mission to bring happiness and pleasure into the built environment and to add “a thick rich fodder to contemporary material culture.”


Fake Industries' Velodrome in Medellin.
Courtesy Fake Industries
 

Fake Industries Architectural Agonism
[ Firm Website ]

“F**k originality,” declares Fake Industries. Founded by Urtzi Grau and Christina Goberna Pesudo, the firm explores the potentials hidden in the public knowledge of the last 400 years of architectural excess. “Don’t ask us for new stuff, we copy.”


dlandstudio's Gowanus Canal Pilot Street-End Spong Park in Brooklyn.
Courtesy dlandstudio
 

dlandstudio architecture + landscape architecture

[ Firm Website ]

Founded by Susannah Drake in 2005, this multi-disciplinary design firm collaborates with large teams that include architects, artists, landscape architects, planners, and engineers.


formula's Sushi-teria in New York.
BarkowPhoto
 

form-ula
[ Firm Website ]

Composed of three trained architects, this collaborative looks to the future by looking back at the past, and reaching beyond the traditional bounds of the profession in order to bring home fees.


PARA-Project's Haffenden House in Syracuse, NY.
Courtesy PARA-Project
 

PARA-Project
[ Firm Website ]

This New York City–based collaborative works on projects that vary in scales and media, from commercial, institutional, and residential work, to events and international competitions.

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A Future for the Past
With Twitter as an anchor tenant, 1355 Market was restored with an eye toward preserving the building's art-deco detailing where possible, and stripping back to the concrete structure where appropriate.
Bruce Damonte

Retrofit Office
Market Square
San Francisco, CA

At the heart of San Francisco’s Market Street renaissance is a pair of buildings between 9th and 10th streets, former furniture warehouses reborn as creative office space. “I thought, if you really want to do something and leave a mark, the old furniture mart was a great opportunity,” said architect Olle Lundberg. “[When it closed] it created this incredible dead zone on Market. Having nothing in there created an inherent problem. Who would move in there to have enough of an impact to make it work?”

The answer is Twitter, which recently moved its global headquarters to 1355 Market. The Twitter offices, designed by Lundberg Design and IA Interior Architects, breathed new life into a downtown Art Deco landmark. An outstanding example of adaptive reuse, the complex, known as Market Square, is the result of collaboration between real estate investor Shorenstein and multiple design firms.

 
Bruce Damonte
 

Market Square comprises two buildings, 1355 Market and 1 TENth (formerly 875 Stevenson), and The Commons, a park built over Stevenson Alley. The centerpiece of the project is 1355 Market, constructed in 1937. Massive floor plates and low ceilings characterize the 800,000-square-foot building’s interior, while its 11-story elevation is clad with terracotta and features a Mayan motif.

With support from historic building specialists Page & Turnbull, RMW Architecture & Interiors renovated 1355 Market’s exterior and public floors. The facade was left largely unchanged, with only the windows and ground-floor storefronts replaced. The interior was a different story. The lobby of 1355 Market Street had been renovated in the 1980s, its Art-Deco fixtures replaced and walls covered with glass mirrors. The designers removed the mirrors and used historic photographs to recreate period lighting fixtures. They also repainted the lobby’s decorative plaster ceiling.

Douglas fir beams, reclaimed from a 1941 addition to the building, clad one of 1355’s lobbies.
Bruce Damonte
 

The building’s other defining feature is a series of two-story concrete columns that had been obscured by the furniture showrooms’ walls. RMW cleared these out to create Stevenson Hall. The columns were “a driving force for the interior architecture,” said Terry Kwik, a principal at RMW. “All of the architecture was really designed to emphasize that portion of the building.”

The designers added a second lobby, accented with Douglas fir beams reclaimed from a 1941 addition to the building. Around the new elevators, RMW created a concrete core, which, with the addition of shear walls, satisfied California’s rigorous seismic retrofit requirements. The firm also installed all new MEP infrastructure and doubled the number of bathroom fixtures on each floor. These upgrades helped earn Market Square LEED Gold certification.

At 1 TENth, the design team found less worth saving. Built in the 1980s as a furniture showroom, the concrete building’s small windows made it unsuitable for office space. RMW re-skinned the building in glass. “Literally every bay was cut out,” said Kwik. “It’s a whole new building now. Before you would only look out 3-by-3 windows. Now you have floor to ceiling glass, it’s totally transparent.” The team made few infrastructure upgrades, and instead focused on the building’s connection to 1355 Market.

Anna Bergren Miller is a regular contributor to AN.


The restored structure will give BBP flexible work and event space while connecting Houstonians to their city’s past and its contemporary waterfront amenities.
Courtesy Lake/Flato
 

Retrofit for resiliency
Sunset Coffee Building
Houston, TX

Built in 1910, the Sunset Coffee Building is one of the only remaining industrial structures on Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston. Sited near Allen’s Landing, at the corner of Commerce and Fannin streets, the one-time coffee roasting warehouse has a colorful history that includes a brief stint in the late 1960s as artist David Adickes’ psychedelic rock venue Love Street Light Circus and Feel Good Machine. Because of this link with the past, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) and Houston First (HF) decided to do something almost unheard of in Space City—they decided to preserve and restore the old brick building by turning it into a recreation and cultural center.

“Keeping the historic elements of building and scale is a really great thing in a city like Houston,” said Joseph Benjamin, project manager with Lake|Flato, which designed the project with BNIM. “In San Antonio it’s a given, but in Houston that’s a challenge. There could have been lots of pressure to develop it into a larger, denser site.”

 
Courtesy Lake/Flato
 

The adaptive ruse project presented several challenges to the architects. BBP applied for historic preservation grants from the National Park Service, requiring the design team to restore and/or replicate the character of the building. The three-story, 12,000-square-foot warehouse’s poured-in-place reinforced concrete structure was in good shape, but the brick veneer wall had crumbled beyond repair. The architects conducted an exhaustive search to find a contemporary brick that matched the color and spotting of the original masonry. The wooden casement windows also had to be restored, where possible, and replaced with newly fabricated windows that matched the originals where necessary.

   
Courtesy Lake/Flato
 

Another challenge was that the site is 12 feet below street level, solidly within the bayou’s flood plane. The first floor could expect to contend with regular inundations. Consequently, the architects located a canoe, kayak, and bicycle rental station on this level, securing it with permeable gates and garage doors capable of allowing floodwaters to flow into and out of the interior without causing much damage. An elevated rainwater collection tank posted beside the building will serve as a symbol of BBP’s commitment to improving the bayou’s water quality.

The architects located BBP’s offices on the second level. The office floor is linked to the street with a bridge that connects to an elevated veranda, which wraps around to the bayou side of the building. On the third floor is an exhibition space and on the roof a terrace, both of which can be rented out for events. The design team left the interiors open and the structure exposed, creating a flexible, loft-like environment.

While this restored bit of history will offer Houstonians with a connection to the city’s ever more obscured past, perhaps the project’s greatest function for downtown will be the improved access it creates to the revitalized Allen’s Landing and the Buffalo Bayou Greenway.

Aaron Seward is AN’s managing and Southwest editor.


The architects replaced the building’s marble panels with fritted spandrel glass, preserving the tower’s look while improving its performance.
Courtesy Lenscape
 

Retrofit Curtain Wall
First Canadian Place
Toronto, Ontario

At 978 feet, Toronto’s First Canadian Place is the tallest occupied building in Canada. While that claim to fame has endured since its construction in 1975, the tower’s white Carrara marble cladding has not fared so well. The exterior of the building had not undergone any significant changes beyond general maintenance, said Dan Shannon of Moed de Armas & Shannon Architects (MdeAS).

“Over time, the marble had deteriorated to the point that one piece of stone had fallen from the building,” said Shannon. “The anchoring, the stone itself, was in a place where it could no longer be maintained, and a change had to be made.” But with tenants like BMO Harris, Manulife Financial, and other major Canadian corporations, primary building owner Brookfield was left with little time to renovate. MdeAS and B+H Architects, who worked as the architect of record, had to replace 45,000 pieces of marble in one year—a job Shannon said would easily take two years under typical circumstances.

 
Courtesy Lenscape
 

To accomplish the job the team commissioned a custom suspended rig with three tiers for simultaneous work. The rig was climate controlled, but not airtight. “This was an occupied building,” said Shannon. “You can imagine trying to change that at 800 feet up during the Canadian winter.”

The design goal, he said, was to come up with a new curtain wall assembly that would bolster the building’s integrity while maintaining the stately appearance of the original design by Edward Durell Stone’s office and Bregman + Hamann Architects.

MdeAS had worked on Stone buildings before, notably New York’s General Motors Building. As with that project, the architects were drawn to Stone’s affinity for recurring geometric patterns. On First Canadian Place, they added a ceramic frit to the custom seven-by-ten-foot Viracon glass panels, evoking the texture of the original marble with a series of triangles.

 
Courtesy Lenscape
 

Each of the new opaque spandrel glass panels replace eight marble tiles, extending beyond the corners of the building on all sides. “Rather than just having the white glass fold back into these corners that were important to the original design, we used the contrasting glass color to make spandrel glass, accentuating the corners,” said Shannon.

The subtle sheen and restored brightness of the curtain wall contrast strikingly with those shadowy corners. New solar-reflecting window treatments and repaired air leaks update the insulated glass units that remain from the original assembly. In all, the unitized spandrel panel glass system nests three panes of ¼-inch low-iron glass in an extruded aluminum frame, with three types of PVB interlayers between.

In place of the 45,000 marble panels now sit 5,370 glass panels, reducing the amount of cladding sealant needed by 39.8 miles. The removed marble is being crushed into roof ballast and sand for other projects, and a portion is going to local art programs.

Chris Bentley is AN’s Midwest editor.


The addition engages the sidewalk and houses two retail spaces in a reflective volume.
Scott Frances
 

Retrofit Plaza/entrance
1200 New Hampshire Ave
Washington, D.C.

In the resurgent real estate market of Washington D.C., the owners of older buildings are competing for tenants with newer, more dynamic office spaces. And while D.C.’s reputation as a city remains buttoned-up, the city has an increasingly vibrant street life and a young and choosy workforce. This forms the backdrop for Janson Goldstein’s glittering addition to a mundane 1980s brick office building in the Capital, which adds retail space to the streetscape and creates a reflective, eye-catching surface that captures images of trees, passing cars, and pedestrians.

 
Scott Frances
 

The new angled glass pavilion aligns with the sidewalk to better engage street life and contains two retail spaces set within a subtly prismatic, reflective volume. The mirrored quality is achieved through a silvery metallic frit pattern, which allows a carefully calibrated ratio of transparency to reflectivity. Two bands of massive sheets of glass—the upper of which angles out, the inner bending in—create a dynamic surface. Janson Goldstein worked with German glass manufacturer BGT Bischoff Glastechnik, which was capable of fabricating the pieces, the largest of which is thirteen and a half feet long. No mullions separate the glass, which is hung from above. “It creates one continuous image for the property,” said Hal Goldstein, a principal at Janson Goldstein.

Scott Frances
 

Janson Goldstein also renovated the building’s lobby and entrance, creating a new signature bronze wall that extends from the interior out to the building facade. Allied Development fabricated the panels, which provide a rich, textural contrast to the sleek glass volume outside and the bright white lobby inside. “The developer came to us, looking to rebrand the building, bring in retail, and create a new iconic entrance,” said Goldstein. “Our project was simple enough to appeal to the developer. We were taking advantage of leftover space that hadn’t been designed at all. It’s another step toward making this a 24-hour neighborhood.”

Alan G. Brake is AN’s executive editor.

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Construction of Chicago Riverwalk Underway; City Looks at Funding Options
Chicago’s Riverwalk extension is underway, and the city is looking for contractors to help plan and operate concessions along what promises to be a major downtown attraction. Applicants have until April 7 to reply to the city’s request for qualifications. Chicago Riverwalk 1 The project got a major infusion of federal cash last year, but now Chicago is looking for private entities to help arrange for concessions—think bike rentals, kiosks, cafes, retail—along the riverside promenade, which will expand the Riverwalk six blocks. Federal transportation loans to be paid back over 35 years won’t be enough to fully finance the project, so the city is still considering sponsorship and advertising. Last year the city’s then-transportation chief Gabe Klein promised "Any additional advertising would be very tasteful and very limited.” Conceptual plans establish identities for each of the Riverwalk extension’s six blocks from State Street west to Lake Street: The Marina (from State to Dearborn); The Cove (Dearborn to Clark); The River Theater (Clark to LaSalle); The Swimming Hole (LaSalle to Wells); The Jetty (Wells to Franklin); and The Boardwalk (Franklin to Lake). Chicago’s plan to reengage its “second shoreline” follows similar efforts that have had success in Indianapolis, San Antonio and London, among others.
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Reading Community
Courtesy MOKA Studio

Austin’s new central library will, contrary to what some might think, contain actual books. Lots of books. But it will also be a community center, a place that unites technology and people, paper and screen, and, ultimately, city and nature. With thousands of people now living in downtown Austin (and more to come), architects, planners, and city leaders took the opportunity to not only re-examine the traditional function of a library in an age of e-books and internet connectivity, but also to consider the role of this building in its context and its community.

Austinites are known for their highly participatory and democratic inclinations, and they made their vision of the new library known. “People wanted to make sure the library didn’t just have books, but also different kinds of nice places to read books and interact with technology,” said Jonathan Smith, project architect at Lake|Flato Architects in San Antonio, which is partnering with Boston’s Shepley Bulfinch in an integrated joint venture for the project. Lake|Flato completed the schematic design and design development, and is currently overseeing contract administration; Shepley Bullfinch executed the programming and construction documents.

 
The interior of the library is dominated by a six-story atrium.
 

The site for the new and long-overdue central library is indeed a nice place in and of itself. Located on the north shore of the city’s lakefront, the library will act as the terminus for a lively, pedestrian-oriented urban corridor on its northern urban edge, and connect to riparian landscape and long vistas across Lady Bird Lake to the south. Its street presence will animate and complete the until-now quiet, western end of the Second Street District, and make an important physical connection to the city’s hike and bike trail. Music venue ACL Live and the W Hotel, as well as hip shops and restaurants, are a stretch to the east, while at lake level, pedestrian and bike access connects to the city’s ten-mile-long network of trails.

A 38-story residential tower is being developed by Trammel Crow across Shoal Creek to the east, where the building engages the hike and bike trail. “On this edge, the design accommodates a pedestrian connection between the library and the riparian character of the creek,” said Steve Raike, project manager with Lake|Flato. “These goals are firmly embedded in Austin’s Great Streets design standards.” Here, bench seating, shade trees, and bike parking provide an intimate, welcoming entry to the library, removed from the activity of the street level above. To the west, the city’s decommissioned, iconic 1950s Seaholm Power Plant is being re-envisioned as a mixed-use complex, finally completing this western sector of downtown.

The library's street presence will complete the western end of the Second Street District.
 

Inside the building, the space is dominated by what Raike calls the “big move” of the project: a six-story, light-filled atrium that provides vertical circulation and a variety of scales of spaces for people to gather or to be alone, to research or to brainstorm. A multi-purpose space will accommodate up to 350. At street level, a leasable restaurant space provides a social spot—think bookstore café—and a retail space will house the library’s own high-end, museum-style shop, both revenue generators for the city-owned operation. This integration of public and private enterprise takes its cues from nearby Antoine Predock-designed city hall, another municipal building that contains retail and restaurant space along its Second Street frontage.

With Austin’s high tech community and spirit of innovation, it makes sense that the library will assimilate technology with people. Smith calls it a “new hub for the citizens of Austin.” Not due to open until March 2016, the library has already received inquiries for space rental from South by Southwest Interactive, itself a hub of technology and digital innovation. Proof, hopefully, that reports of the death of libraries have been greatly exaggerated.

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Almost Anything Goes in Santa Barbara
Courtesy MCASB

Almost Anything Goes: Architecture and Inclusivity
Museum of Contemporary Arts Santa Barbara
653 Paso Nuevo, Santa Barbara, California
Through April 13

It is impossible to underestimate the role that museum and gallery exhibitions have played in the history of modern architecture. Figures like Giuseppi Terragni, Lilly Reich, Bernard Rudofsky and, today, Neil Denari and Diller + Scofidio have all designed for and in the space of the gallery. They often designed exhibitions before they could get a building commission, or during slow economic times, but for all of these figures the gallery was a site where they could theorize or construct models that were still spinning in their heads but not yet possible to realize. Some of the most exciting ideas in 20th century Avant-garde architecture were first thought out in galleries, such as Frederick Kiesler’s Endless City, and his “L and T” method of installation design. In recent times, Diller + Scofidio’s Tourisms: suitCase Studies (1991) can surely be said to have lead to their design for The Brasserie, Boston’s ICA, and the just unveiled Gray Box gallery/theater at MoMA. Though the historic links from gallery to building are clear, critics often assert that architects in galleries do not produce architecture but art or, worse, architecture posing as art. This argument is often, but not always, a canard for architects who long for physical spaces where they can experiment, communicate with the public, and succeed or fail. The gallery space provides an opportunity for architects to experiment in real time, and space has never been more important than today when digital design can imagine the most hyperbolic forms, use of new materials, and geometries that may or may not be buildable. Benjamin Ball of Ball-Nogues Studio, a practice that has flourished in the design of installations, makes exactly this point about their work for galleries. Their goal, Ball admits, is to be in dialogue with the 75 years of artistic practice, but even more they want to do research about craft and the process of production.

   
Design, Bitches, Masters of Architecture, 2012.
Courtesy Design, Bitches
 

These issues of design intent, production, and even reception are all played out in the exhibition Almost Anything Goes: Architecture and Inclusivity at the Museum of Contemporary Arts Santa Barbara. Conceived and co-curated by Brigitte Kouo, a designer with an interest in architecture, and the museum’s director and chief curator Miki Garcia, it smartly selects a group of young Southern California designers all working in different areas of architectural research and production. Ball-Nogues Studio was a natural inclusion in this survey. They are joined by Amorphis, Atelier Manferdini, Design Bitches, dO|Su Studio Architecture, Digital Physical, and Variate Labs.

The entrance to the exhibit foregrounds an eight-foot-tall sculptural object, exo, 2013, created by DO/SU Studio Architecture and its principle Doris Sung. It is a creative study for a multiple layered building facade if it were made of thermo-bimetals, in this case aluminum, a “smart… material that inherently responds to temperature, curling when heated and flattening when cooled.” It aims to challenge our perception of a facade as only a protective coating when it could be, as Sung said, “a responsive and active skin.”

Gallery view revealing several installation pieces.
Courtesy MCASB
 

Scattered around the gallery are luscious candy colored tabletops created by Atelier Manferdini that foreground architecture’s “communicative value” and look good enough to eat. The architects in this exhibit are young so one wants to encourage all sorts of experimentation strategies, but also to warn them to be aware of the possible clichés of art world production. All of the works in the exhibition do focus on architecture. The sculptural wall pieces by Amorphis could benefit from an updated reading on the critiques of minimalism, but still they suggest a relationship between the viewer and the work of art mediated by personal conditions—a major concern of architects. Another installation that straddles the strategies of art but still makes a convincing case for what architects can bring to the debate are the photographs by Design Bitches that use personal images of the architects standing in for the male heroes of yore. They are quite convincing and hilarious. Design Bitches also has a beautifully crafted series of concrete bags arched across the gallery ceiling like clouds dripping rain that playing with notions of “heaviness and somber lightness.”

The old installation pros Ball-Nogues produced the most convincing object and creative design strategy with their Mickey Mouse ear–like paper lamp. It was created by shooting paper pulp though a pressured sprayer into molds of flexible inflatable fabric. These paper lamps are one-off prototypes in the gallery, but suggest a way of creating objects of mass production. Ball-Nogues Studio is now working on its first building in San Antonio, Texas.

Santa Barbara is a seductive landscape of historic mission architecture. One does not expect to find adventurous design here. So the curators are to be congratulated for making this exhibit happen in their enticing shopping mall gallery. It displays again the amazing depth and creativity of young architects in the Southern California region.

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Elizabeth Wright Ingraham, 1922-2013
Fountain Branch Library.
Courtesy Catherine Ingraham

Elizabeth Wright Ingraham, architect, FAIA, died of congestive heart failure in San Antonio, Texas, on September 15, 2013. She was 91 years old.

Daughter of John Lloyd Wright and Hazel Lundin, and granddaughter of Frank Lloyd Wright, Elizabeth studied architecture with Mies van der Rohe at the Armour Institute (now Illinois Institute of Technology). She also attended University of California, Berkeley. In addition to working for sixty-five years as an architect, Elizabeth was an educator, scholar, and public figure. Elizabeth’s practice received numerous design awards from the American Institute of Architects. Her extensive work on behalf of women, energy conservation, and environmental awareness was honored with multiple awards throughout her life. She believed that architecture was capable of profoundly influencing culture. On National Public Radio in 1994, she remarked, “Architecture is the language of intervention…it intervenes in biologic, social, and political systems, and as such, architects become builders of ideas.”

 
Elizabeth Wright Ingraham.
 

Elizabeth was born in 1922 in Oak Park, Illinois. She became a licensed architect in 1947. In 1948, she moved from Chicago with her husband, Gordon Ingraham, who studied with Wright at Taliesin, to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where they opened a practice together. As Ingraham & Ingraham, Architects, they designed and built over 80 projects. In 1974, Elizabeth and Gordon divorced. Subsequently, Elizabeth opened her own practice, Elizabeth Wright Ingraham and Associates.

Dissatisfied with the narrowness of architectural work, Elizabeth founded an educational institute in 1970 for the comprehensive study of environmental and land use issues on the Front Range of Colorado. The Wright-Ingraham Institute thrived for twenty years under Elizabeth’s direction, attracting students and visiting faculty from schools across the nation. The Institute continues today as a non-profit dedicated to education and environmental research.

Elizabeth eventually returned to architectural practice, designing numerous residential and urban projects and became nationally and internationally known as a visionary educator and designer. Some of her most accomplished and experimental architectural projects were designed and built when she was in her 70s. She felt that this work, later in her life, reflected a departure from her grandfather’s principles and a coming to fruition of her own architectural ideas.

Elizabeth was an advocate for architecture and civic advancement throughout her life. She improved public access to her grandfather’s legacy and brought early attention to social and environmental issues in architecture through her writings, public lectures, and conferences.

Elizabeth started an international exchange program, Crossroads, in affiliation with Colorado College, was a co-founder of the Women’s Forum in Colorado, and served on multiple advisory boards and task forces. She sustained an avid interest in life, creative work, and the power of ideas to the very end of her life.

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Prize of the Lagoon
Courtesy The Contemporary Austin

In January, The Contemporary Austin (formerly AMOA-Arthouse) announced three finalists in an invited competition to design a master site plan for Laguna Gloria, the museum’s 12-acre estate on the shores of Lake Austin. The three firms are Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture of San Francisco; Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture of Boston; and Norwegian firm Snøhetta, which has an office in New York City.

These three firms are not only leading innovators in urban and landscape design, but also have rich experience working with artists and arts communities. They all have impressive records of significant design and planning work,” said Frederick Steiner, dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, in a statement.

In May 2013, Steiner led a committee that sent RFQs to 33 firms. Nineteen of the firms responded. The committee winnowed the list down to four semi-finalists—including Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, which has offices in Seattle and Washington, D.C.—providing each with $10,000 to prepare a presentation. On October 22, the committee entertained presentations by the four firms and further narrowed the list to the above three. It also determined to visit each firm’s studio and some of their completed projects. The committee will reconvene in mid-February to pick a winner, which will be announced in early spring 2014.

The museum declined to release details on the finalist firms’ proposals, citing their sketchy condition at this stage of the process. It did, however, reveal the main stipulations of the RFQ, which requested a comprehensive master plan that fully incorporates the 12 acres of Laguna Gloria, lays the groundwork for a sculpture park, and respects the site’s ecology and existing buildings.

Laguna Gloria was the home of Texas businesswoman, philanthropist, and preservationist Clara Driscoll and her husband Henry Sevier. It is the site of the 1916 Italianate-style Driscoll Villa, which was designed by San Antonio architect Harvey L. Page and is on the National Register of Historic Places. A 5,300-square-foot art school, built after the estate became an art museum in the 1960s, is also part of the grounds.     In May 2013, The Contemporary Austin hired local environmental planning and cartography company Siglo Group to conduct an environmental assessment of Laguna Gloria. Siglo produced a report analyzing the property’s natural and cultural history, delineating its qualities and features, and suggesting conservation and management guidelines.

Siglo Group made recommendations for how to increase the ecological resiliency of the site, locating places where there are erosion problems, picking out invasive species, and indicating what native plants might be increased. It also made suggestions on how best to improve the visitor experience by capitalizing on the existing view sheds and vegetative buffers.

One part of our evaluation was determining what was on the site and pinpointing some of the hidden jewels,” said Jonathan Ogren of Siglo Group. “Laguna Gloria is representative of the vegetation types of what you’d find in Central Texas. Near the water you have riparian forest with some beautiful cathedral like cypress trees. There’s a sloping oak savanna up top. Then there’s a large swath through middle that was converted to Bermuda grass in the 1980s. Those different ecosystems create different rooms, like rooms in a museum, that will work for different types of art.”